Dr. Ralph Hiram Walker was born on the 28th of May, 1897 in West Zorra Twp (Oxford County), which is north of Ingersoll. His parents James H. Walker and the former Elizabeth Fawcett were farmers and he was their only child. Dr. Walker’s father died June 6th, 1913 from a head injury. The cause of death was listed as an “accident” on the death record. Dr. Walker was 16 years old at the time. His mother died 3 years later, on the 3rd of July, 1916, from tuberculosis. After the death of his parents, Dr. Walker was supported by an aunt. He attended a local country school in Ingersoll and Woodstock Collegiate High School.
Dr. Walker enlisted in the Canadian Army during the First World War on the 10th of April, 1917 in Woodstock. He served in France with the Canadian Machine Gun Corp and he listed his next of kin as his uncle, George Walker. He was discharged on the 14th of April, 1919.
After the war, Dr. Walker returned to Canada and he attended the University of Western Ontario. He graduated M.D. in 1924 and he interned for one year at Harper Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.
Dr. Walker went to Thamesville to relieve a physician on July 1st, 1925. Dr. Walker ended up buying the doctors medical practice and he stayed in Thamesville for 32 years caring for his patients.
Dr. Walker married Ruby Esther Crosbie on the 5th of September 1925, in London, Ontario. She was born on the 23rd of March, 1900, the youngest of 7 children born to Robert Crosbie and the former Margaret Wright. Her parents were farmers and her siblings were; Jeanette Brough Crosbie, Katherine Wright Crosbie, Annie Roberta Crosbie (who died at the age of 7), Agnes Jane Crosbie, Mary Alexandra Crosbie and Robert Alexander Crosbie (who died of influenza at the age of 26). Mrs. Walker was a registered nurse. She completed her training at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London.
Dr. and Mrs. Walker had 4 children; James R. Walker, Dr. George R. Walker, a son Theodore died in infancy in 1927 and a daughter Margaret Elizabeth Walker died in infancy in 1944.
Dr. Walker was appointed as a Coroner in 1939 and he held that position until 1967. He served as home physician at Thamesview Lodge from 1957-1967. Dr. Walker was a member of the Kent Medical Society and he served as the President in 1935. When he retired he was made a life member. He was also a life member and Past-Master of Tecumseh A.F. & A.M. Lodge #245 (Thamesville). Dr. Walker was also a member of the Chatham Scottish Rite and Rose Croix Masonic Lodge. He was a member of the Rotary Club in Chatham and Thamesville and he was President for a term. Dr. Walker served on the Board of Directors of the Kent County Children’s Aid Society from 1957 to 1969. He was President of the Kent County Children’s Aid Society from 1965 to 1966. He was also an elder at Victoria Avenue United Church in Chatham.
Dr. Walker was presented with the Glenn Sawyer Service Award from the Ontario Medical Society in December of 1974. This award is bestowed upon a physician who has greatly contributed to their local community and the medical profession.
Dr. Walker retired in 1982. He died at the Public General Hospital in Chatham on the 15th of September 1986, 10 days after celebrating his 61st wedding anniversary. At the time of his death, he resided at 247 Elizabeth Street in Chatham. Mrs. Walker died in 1995. Dr. and Mrs. Walker were buried at the Mayhew Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Thamesville.
*Dr. Walker’s son Dr. George Ralph Walker is also featured on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
**Mrs. Walker’s brother Robert Alexander Crosbie served with the Canadian Armed Services during WWI.